Wedding Traditions Of Korea
The wedding traditions of Korea are very deep rooted and often serve a purpose. Korean’s have been known to keep very detailed lists of their ancestors as an important part of their culture. Much of this is done because in the past many Korean people looked down on a couple marrying one another if they had the same last name from an ancestor.
A law was put in place to regulate Korean weddings within a clan, but in 1997 it was considered unconstitutional therefore beginning in 1998, that law was dropped allowing people to marry from the same ancestral clan.
If the couple is the age of 20 or older they can marry without parental consent. With family such a key component, most Koreans will not marry that young if the parents don’t approve. Thus the average age for the male to marry is 31 and the woman, 28.
Back in the ancient times, Korean weddings would be held at the bride’s home. The night before the wedding, hand lanterns would be set along the path from the groom’s house to the bride’s. The family of the groom would carry a chest that would have gifts for the bride’s family in it. The new groom would arrive by horse to the bride’s house were the ceremony would take place and when the wedding ceremony was over the groom would take his new bride to his parent’s house in a chair called a palanquin. This is where she will live.
The groom and his bride would wear formal costumes for the wedding ceremony. The bride would wear a short jacket called a jeogori, which included long sleeves and two ribbons. It also had a wrap around skirt called a chima that was high-waited and very long. Along with the other attire she would wear shoes made out of silk that were shaped like a boat along with white socks. She may also have a white sash with symbols of flowers, along with a crown or headpiece. There is also a decoration called a hanbok that is usually tied to either the ribbons on the jacket or on to the skirt.
The groom himself would also wear a jacket that has long loose sleeves along with a pair of pants that are also loose and are tied at the ankles and an overcoat. He may also have on a vest over his shirt and don a black hat.
Modern Day Traditions
In the more modern wedding day ceremony, the larger cities in Korea have nice hotels that will have rooms designed especially for weddings or they will have wedding halls where more than one wedding can take place at a time. Most couples today will have more of a westernized wedding, and then have a more traditional smaller ceremony after the main one. There are certain practices that take place before the wedding that are very important in the Korean wedding.
They will exchange gifts of jewelry and clothing between the groom and bride, gifts of household goods called honsu, significant gifts to the family of the groom called yedan, a cash gift from the family of the groom to the bride called cholgap and the bride’s family to the groom’s friends called hamgap.
Food and wine are also exchanged between the two families. Not all of this gift giving is being practiced today; however the most important ones are the yedan and the hamgap.
After the wedding they will have a wedding feast along with the reception called kyeolhon piroyeon, which can be a mix of both western and traditional Korean cultures. The food that is served at the reception will be marinated short ribs called galbi, bulgogi, kimchi which is pickled cabbage with different spices and they will typically have lots of different sauces in bowls for dipping your food. The meal will always include a dish called gimbap that includes egg, rice, pickled radish, crab-meat and spinach all rolled in seaweed and sliced as it is served along with lots of sticky white rice.
They will also have mandu, which are dumplings filled with meat, carrot, cabbage, garlic, spinach and clear noodles. The dumplings are usually either fried or steamed. Soup is always on the menu and usually it will be a kimchi type, but they may also serve doenjang guk which is a fermented soybean paste soup. After the main meal a great variety of pastries and fruits will be offered as dessert.